Police issue stern warning after rescuing nine kids on inflatable flamingo

Nine children were rescued from the inflatable flamingo on December 23.
Nine children were rescued from the inflatable flamingo on December 23. Photo credit: NZ Police

The rescue of nine children from an inflatable flamingo that drifted out to sea has prompted a serious safety warning about Kiwis' use of water toys.

Auckland Maritime Police say they have seen an increase in incidents involving inflatable toys - including the rescue of the kids off the flamingo. 

"They were unsure of the area of water and got caught in the strong current and were not able to make it to shore," Sergeant Garry Larsen said.

"We want people to have fun, but we don't want them to become drowning victims."

Maritime Police have rescued a number of people who have headed out on stand-up paddleboards, inflatable boats, kayaks and other self-propelled water toys this summer.

A lack of training of how to uses these type of equipment can put people at significant risk, Sgt Larsen says. 

"Boating, kayaking, swimming, diving and other water-related activities are part of the New Zealand lifestyle, but it's imperative that people respect the water, and be more safety aware before they hit the sea." 

The group of nine, aged between 10 and 16, went out on the inflatable flamingo at around 6pm on December 23 from Bucklands Beach.

A person onshore notified Maritime Police. 

Another incident involving two inexperienced kayakers who were rescued after spending five hours at sea could have turned far worse, Sgt Larsen says.

The pair were caught in an offshore breeze and outgoing tide at Orere Point on January 20.

And after losing their paddles, they drifted 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometres) out. 

Maritime Police water safety recommendations:


- Swim between the flags.

- If you are going out on a self-propelled watercraft or toy please consider the wind direction. 

- Know whether the tide is coming in or going out.

- Make sure someone on shore can alert authorities if you get into trouble.

- Wear a personal flotation device.


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